Studies have shown that children that spend their time running around and climbing tree’s outside actually perform better academically than children that sit in front of the TV every day. Now I have mentioned in a previous post the importance of watching cricket on the TV for learning purposes, however even that should be in moderation.
We watch sport to get pumped up and decide that we want to play too. For example, when I was a kid, and our dad took us to watch a new superhero movie, whether it be spiderman or x-men, we would walk out that cinema wanting to show off our brand new magical powers, my brother and I would talk like them, and make something a villain so that we could defeat it.
The point is, we watched and then were inspired to do what we saw. If your child watches sport all day every day and isn’t at all inspired to play, then it is ultimately pointless.
Getting the body and mind ready
As much as there is brain development in playing sport, our bodies also have a physical reaction as well. Ever wonder why its common practise for a team to run a few laps around the field before they begin? Some might assume for warm up and stretching, but that is only partially the reason. We have 3 energy processes that need to break before learning can take place. Let’s leave all the biological jargon off for a minute, in a nutshell when the body has burnt through all its energy storage and your heart rate is off the chart, your body can absorb more information. We call this muscle memory.
I was coaching this high school athlete several years ago, and he was very talented with a work ethic unrivalled with anyone I had coached before him. There was a stretch of 3 weeks where his performance was unbelievable in our sessions, he was quicker off his feet, he was reading the ball better than he had in any previous sessions and hitting the ball harder, and when I needed to tweak his technique he grasped the change almost instantly, so I asked him where he had been before arriving to my session – the answer was cross country. He had been running for a couple of hours before he picked up his bat. His increased performance didn’t make sense to him, but it made complete sense to me.
The state of “Flow”
Think of the term “getting his eye in”, why is it that a batsman is vulnerable when facing his first ball? Why is it that boxers walk into the ring already sweaty? An athlete needs to get into the third energy cycle as quickly as possible to achieve greater levels of performance.
Whether you are after sporting performance or academic performance, the body still works the same, and better you train your body the better the chances of academic excellence. Ever remember staying up all night to finish a project before a deadline, or an exam for the next morning? Can you identify that some of your best work has been done under huge pressure and heavy levels of exhaustion? If that is ringing any bells, then now you understand why.
Neuroscientists have identified this concept as being in a state of flow, when the brain seemingly makes changes or adapts without thinking. If academic excellence is a priority to you, then your child’s sport should be a priority to you as well.